As I wrote about yesterday, KUOW freelance reporter Vanessa Romo apparently saw a pair of Seattle cops tackle a homeless man, then punch him repeatedly in the head last Thursday. She's filed a report with SPD's Office of Professional Accountability, but has otherwise been quiet about it. Her boyfriend KIRO co-host Luke Burbank has been talking about it nonstop on his show since Friday. That got me thinking: As a journalist, what would I do if I saw something like that? Why, I'd write up every detail in story form, of course! Screw the police reports! So does that make me an awful human?
Not like Romo. She's swell.
To recall, Burbank has described what Romo saw that night as:
"It was about 10:30 at night on Thursday, and [Romo] was waiting to go left on Rainier Avenue South by the Lowe's there, and there was a police car there behind her and a guy crossing the street against the light. So he was definitely jaywalking.
And at some point the police put their lights on and went around her and were ordering the guy to stop and he wasn't responding to that command . . . So both the cops jumped out, ran after the guy once he was on the sidewalk and tackled him . . . The guy's head bounced off the pavement. Then they cuffed him. And then apparently he tried to spit on one of them, and maybe he did spit on one of them, and then she says she saw them punching this guy in the head after he was cuffed, with two cops sitting on top of him."
Afterward, Romo's first thought was apparently to ask an officer about the process of filing a formal report about what she saw.
Mine would have been to ask the cops directly why they did what they did, and quote them accordingly.
Romo's request was apparently met with hostility from a sergeant who had showed up at the scene. He was shocked and offended that she'd dare to make a peep about what she saw.
"She was expressing an interest in just filing some paperwork with the police department, saying 'This was my view of the events.' And when the sergeant came over to supposedly help her with that process, it didn't seem to us that he was very interested in our input on the matter. He was really hostile."
Again, Romo hasn't spoken about the sergeant, deferring to her BF to do the on-air talking.
In my case, there's no doubt that Mr. Angrypants Sergeant would have made a colorful appearance in any report I filed.
So while someone like Romo wants to file the necessary paperwork and be available should she need to go to court, someone like me would want to describe every detail for a reader and follow up with record searches and interviews for subsequent stories.
And that might be why people hate reporters like me.
Of course, it might also be because we sometimes like to write about what we do for a living.
So in that case, I'll stop now.